Excitement builds for National Championship hockey

Emily Suderman and Joel Billing were selling tickets at locations in Winkler and Morden last week. (GREG VANDERMEULEN/Winkler Times)

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Tickets are on sale for the 2019 National Women’s Under-18 Championship, taking place in Morden and Winkler.

The event runs Nov. 5-9 in the two cities, with exhibition games taking place Nov. 3 in Holland, Altona, Pilot Mound and Carman.

Host Organizing Committee Chair Clare Agnew said as of press time they had more than 100 event passes sold. The event passes sell for $70 and include every game in the tournament.

“We’re expecting a lot of walk-up people to buy tickets, but I think we’ll probably sell around 200-250 event passes,” she said. “It gets you into games in Morden and Winkler and it includes the gold medal and bronze medal games.”

“It’s a pretty inexpensive week of really great hockey,” she added.

Day passes will go on sale next with individual game tickets being sold during the week of the tournament.

Volunteer recruitment has also been a success story, so much so, that no more are needed.

“We’re not actively recruiting more volunteers,” she said. “If there’s people that register, we’re letting them know that their name will be placed on a wait list and if we needed them we would call them.”

2019 marks the first time that Manitoba has hosted the National Women’s Under-18 Championship, but Morden is no stranger to hosting Hockey Canada events – it welcomed the Esso Cup, Canada’s National Female Midget Championship, in 2017.

The excitement for this event is growing.

“We’ve been talking about it for eight or nine months now so we’re just really excited for it to get here and see all the pieces fit together,” Agnew said.

Historically, this event has netted more than $1.5 million in economic impact for the host region, and as with all Hockey Canada events, net proceeds are redirected to support the growth of the game locally.

This tournament has long been the first step on the road to Canada’s National Women’s Team; 19 of the 23 players who helped Canada to a bronze medal at the 2019 IIHF Women’s World Championship are alumnae of the tournament, including all-time leading scorer Marie-Philip Poulin, who recorded 30 points in 15 games.

“These are the top 160 female players in Canada in this age group and they will be Hockey Canada’s team in the future,” Agnew said. “I hope people realize how great the level of hockey is going to be.”

Volunteers gathered Oct. 20 for an orientation. (SUPPLIED PHOTO)